Submitted by Virginia E. Hench, who transcribed this story of a Miss Frances Trask (who lived in Michigan when it was the frontier) from her copy of the very fragile book. As Ginny states, "it is a charming glimpse of past lives."
"The Village of Dixboro in Washtenaw County, Michigan, was first laid out by Mr. Dix of Massachusetts, and was once somewhat flourishing, though now a miserable looking place, owning scarce a dwelling that is not in a state of dilapidation. ...
Miss Frances Trask was a cousin of Mrs. Dix, and figured prominently at that day in the little community as a belle somewhat on the Amazon order. She had much talent, with a degree of cultivation that caused her to be looked up to with respect as a person of good qualities of heart, but her eccentricities and unfeminine defiance of general opinion in many trifling matters often startled her quiet neighbors and made it necessary for those who loved her most to defend her from censure. She was much admired by the men; her piquancy of wit, force and decision of character, and a sort of happy audacity, settling off to advantage her personal attractions. Yet she was not wanting in fitness for the usefulness peculiar to woman; in cases of sickness she could do more than anyone else, and would watch for many nights together, bearing fatigue under which an ordinary constitution must have sunk. In emergencies that required prompt action, her energy was praised with enthusiasm by her own sec. Finally, when pecuniary embarrassments made it necessary for Dix and his family to leave their home, and the wife, a gentle ladylike creature, was overpowered with grief, and could do little to expedite preparations, Frances was the nerve of them all. She packed up everything, dressed the children one by one the last morning, placing each on a chair when in readiness, with orders not to move, and with cheerful alacrity arranged everything for their departure. She had accustomed herself to firing at a mark, and was considered one of the best shots in the country, besides being able to ride a horse with any racer. It was said she could cut off a chicken's head at an almost incredible number of rods, and that she often went out deer hunting, but this last tradition does not vouch for. She was the life of picnics or pleasure parties, and seldom let pass an opportunity of making a smart or satirical speech, sometimes at the expense of delicate regard for the feelings of others. A certain Judge Thompson who had held office at Batavia at the time of Morgan's abduction, as sheriff of the county, and had earned a notoriety in no wise enviable, chanced to be helping her at a picnic on one occasion, and began to rally her on her penchant for meat. "Yes," she retorted, "I am fond of flesh, you of blood," a rejoinder which was keenly felt by the mortified official.
On another occasion, the lady seems to have met her match, being excessively annoyed by a gallant who chose to vex her by pretending to mistake her name, calling her "Miss Trash," and then correcting himself with an apparently confused apology. She used to laugh heartily, in mentioning a speech meant to be particularly ill-natured, leveled at her at a dinner party at Ypsilant by a lady of her own stamp, who had become irritated beyond forbearance by some of her sallies. Looking significantly at Miss Trask, she gave her toast, saying, "When Boston next takes an emetic, I hope it will turn its head towards the ocean."
It may well be imagined that those to whom Miss Trask chose to be amiable, liked her much, while she was thoroughly detested by those who had suffered from the arrows of her wit. Strange as it may seem, she was held in high esteem by many of her own sex, notwithstanding her boldness of carriage from which it may be inferred that she affected to be more lawless than she was in reality. She accompanied Mr. Dix and his family when they removed to Texas. Some two years since, when she returned on a visit to Michigan, the manifest change and improvement in her bearing and manners were the subject of general remark. She had grown absolutely quiet and dignified, so that those who had only heard of her early fame expressed some disappointment at not finding her the dashing sprightly creature she had been represented.
Time and the trials and labors incident to life in a new country had tamed her wild spirit; she had mourned the loss of a brother in the Texan service, and had undergone a second term of the difficulties and privation of pioneer life. The government of Texas, however, had shown that they appreciated her services by voting her a large tract of land in compliment to her opening the first seminary for young ladies in that State. This possession, with the portion of land assigned to her deceased brother, made her a wealthy woman. Among the curiosities she brought from her new home, her Mexican blanket attracted great attention from its novelty, elegance and richness. Some said it had been valued in Boston at a thousand dollars. A story had gone about, the details of which were denied by the heroine, that during the struggle in Texas, a Mexican attempting to force his way into the house at a time when Mr. Dix was too ill to act on the defensive, had been shot by the intrepid sister- in-law.
It may be conjectured that Miss Trask had many admirers. She had been engaged at Disboro to Sherman Dix, a relative of her brother-in-law and somewhat her junior, but they quarreled, it was said, upon one occasion when she was suffering from an attack of ague -- about some trifling matter, and the suitor was peremptorily dismissed. When the family removed to Texas some years afterwards, the young man followed and remained a bachelor, whether on account of a lingering attachment to the fair inconstant, or some other reason, it has not been recorded. Miss Trask's matrimonial destiny at length overtook her: she married at Austin a Mr. Thompson and was left a widow in a few months. Her nephew by marriage is Secretary of State in Texas, and a son and daughter of Mr. Thompson reside at Chicago."
On an Internet page from "The Handbook of Texas Online" at http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/"Frances Trask Thompson, girls' school founder, daughter of Israel and Judith (Somes) Trask, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on July 20, 1806. She attended a seminary in New York in the 1820s, then moved late in that decade to Dixboro, Michigan, to live with the family of a cousin who had married John Dix. With that family she moved to Matagorda, Texas, in 1834. In late 1834 or early 1835, as advertised in the Brazoria Texas Republican,qv she opened a girls' boarding school at Cole's Settlement, later Independence. In 1838 she was in Houston to secure the headright grant of her brother, Olwyn Trask, who was killed in a skirmish preceding the battle of San Jacinto.qv In December 1838 she was awarded a section of land in Robertson, Bell, and Milam counties in appreciation of her services as a teacher. She operated Trask Seminary in an eighteen-square-foot log cabin until 1839 or 1839, when she sold the property to Henry F. Gillette.qv Gillette called the school Independence Academy.qv In 1841 Miss Trask was teaching at Austin. She subsequently taught at Rock Island, near Washington-on-the-Brazos, and later returned to Austin. On February 25, 1851, she married William Thompson of Michigan; they operated the Swisher Hotel in Austin until Thompson's death on September 1, 1851, when his wife resumed teaching; she held classes in the old Capitol. In 1854 Frances Thompson was a member of the Daughters of Samaria. She taught at Jasper in 1856 and in Karnes County in 1860. Late in 1860 she returned to Boston to live with her sisters. Upon their death, she moved to Ashmont, Massachusetts, to live with a nephew. She died there on March 31, 1892.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Georgia J. Burleson, comp., The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson, D.D., L.L.D. (1901). Kate Miller Johnson, Some Pioneer Women Teachers in Texas Before 1860 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1929). Trask Family Collection, Texas State Library, Austin."
Miss Frances Trask was an intrepid New England lady who came into this largely uninhabited country with the Dix Family who settled in Coles Settlement. She pioneered with her school in Coles Settlement,later known as Independence. She began her school with the five daughters of Mrs. Coles, adding the daughters of other plantation owners....Dr. Frederick Eby, thus sees a straight line of descent from Independence Academy to Baylor Female College. He writes: 'among the most popular schools for girls during the forties was Independence Academy which later flowered into the Baylor Female College. This institution, which is the oldest in the state, was removed to Belton in 1886.' (James 1986: 2-3) The school took Judge Robert Baylor's name as he assisted in preparing the charter, secured the charter's passage through the legislature, presided as president of the first Board of Trustees, and gave the first gift of one thousand dollars to Baylor College. The school was made up of two divisions, one for men and one for females.
I encourage you to read Dan R. Manning's article in The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. CIII, No. 4, April 2000, page 481.
Daniel Webster Trask, the "stated" son of Captain Richard Trask, a mariner, by his mother, Julia Ann Craig, was born in the spring of 1847 at Masonboro Sound, New Hanover County, North Carolina. His father, Captain Richard (Tink) Trask, was the son of Captain John Tink, also a mariner, and Rebecca Pinson Trask, both were originally from Salem, Massachusetts. On June 6th, 1826, by an act of The General Court, Captain Richard Tink changed his name to Trask. This being due to the lack of assistance (to him and his mother) from the Tink family after his father, John Tink, drowned off the coast of Cuba during a hurricane on November 17th, 1789. Captain Richard's mother, Rebecca Pinson Trask, was the 5th generation and descendant of Captain William Traske from Salem Massachusetts.
Captain Richard Trask joined the firm of Samuel Train and Company of Boston in 1828 and bought an interest in a vessel involved with the Russian trade. In 1838 Captain Trask commanded (part owner as well) The St. Petersburg, (an impressive, 180 ton, vessel) which regularly sailed to England and Russia from several ports including that of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Julia Ann Craig's parents were Thomas and Dicey Craig from Southport and Wilmington, North Carolina. They were "Sounders," very resourceful people who made their living guiding the large cargo ships around the dangerous shoals that guarded the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Thomas Craig (in 1848) conveyed to his daughter, who was living there at the time and bore her son "Web," a tract of land, located near Whiskey Creek, Masonboro Sound, North Carolina, called "Prospect Hall".
A wonderful book about Daniel Webster Trask and his descendants, "The Carolina Trasks -An Informal History," was written (published in 1981) by Frederick Graham Trask. Included in the book are numerous family pictures, stories and a basic genealogy. Frederick has captured in words and conveys to the reader the spirit and perseverance of a fine American family.
The beautifully restored home of Captain Richard Trask, called "The Trask House," is located on Cape Ann in Manchester, Massachusetts. Contact Esther Proctor, Librarian for the Manchester Historical Society, or Lotte Calnek, Curator, at 1-508-526-7230 for public viewing hours.
Elias Trask, born on October 10th 1707 in Weymouth, Massachusetts, is the 3rd generation and descendant of Captain William Traske from Salem Massachusetts.Gwen Guiou Trask, obviously, spent years compiling the information necessary for her complete study of Elias Trask and his descendants. Her efforts and extensive research of the original records, i.e., deeds, wills, and grants, have provided us with factual information about the Trasks that settled in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Gwen's book, "Elias Trask, his children and Their Succeeding Race," (published in 1979) contains stories, pictures and genealogy. The genealogy goes well beyond the Trask surname. There is a general index as well as an index for surnames other than Trask and an index for Christian names of born Trasks.
Samuel Trask of Edgecomb, Maine
From Colleen M. Grim
My grandfather, Ralph Cole Saxton Jr., put together our family history in 1968. Most of his information (he said) came from his brother, David Buck Saxton and aunt Gertrude Trask. The capture of Samuel Trask can be read in the book "Castine" by George Augustus Wheeler, which is a history of Castine, Penobscot and Brooksville, Maine, pages 21-28.
Samuel Trask was kidnapped by the Indians as a child and taken to the Penobscot region where his skill as a huntsman brought him to the notice of Joseph Debadis de Castine. During a season of great scarcity, while Trask and the Indians were gathering cranberries, a flock of wild geese alighted nearby. Trasks success in capturing some of the birds so commended him to Castin's favor that he purchased him from the Indians. Castine held Trask captive until he [Castine] was captured by English "freebooters" on 9 July 1725. It has be stated, that the "freebooters" in turn transferred him to a vessel commanded by the celebrated Captain William Kidd. But, Captain Kidd [b: about 1645, Greenock, Renfrew Scotland] was hanged in London, England sometime after his trial on May 23, 1701. Utimately, Samuel Trask was set free, built a home and raised a family with his wife, Hannah Steward, in Edgecomb, Maine. Edgecomb, Maine is on the east bank of the Sheepscot, east and south east from Wiscasset (Pownalborough until 1802), which was incorporated in 1774. In the early days it was called Freetown. He later died there 1n 1789 at an advanced age.
Until the investigations of deeds, wills etc. by William Blake Trask, it was always believed that Samuel, John, William Traske, b: 8-14-1671 Salem, MA was the one involved in this adventure. But as William Blake Trask demonstrates (NEHG, Jan. 1902, v. 56, pg. 70-73) no where can there be found, on any document associated with John Trask and or his family, any mention of a Samuel Trask. In fact, his was the only signature and name missing relative to parents, brothers, sisters and their spouces. The Samuel Trask living in Edgecomb, ME was, for a fact, up and about at that time. The conclution to be drawn is that the Samuel Trask, living in Edgecomb, ME was the son of Elias, John, William Traske, b: 1703 Salem, MA and d: 8-1789 at 86 years old. The Samuel, John, William Traske, b: 8-14-1671 Salem, MA, must have died young. There are no records of him (just his birth) or having a wife. -RWT-
The following letter written by Baron De castine, The Younger, in 1725 was Published by the NEGH Register, vol. 14, April 1860, page 139-140 [copied from MA Archives, vol. 52, pp. 226-9 by J.L. Stevens]."Of Joseph Dabadis de St. Castin or "Castin the Younger" but little is known. He is represented by Father L'Auvergat--who however, was prejudiced against both him and his brother--as being frequently drunk and disorderly, but as having signalized himself in contests with the English. He was captured on one occasion, and had his vessel and an English lad whom he had purchased of the Indians, taken from him. The account of this capture is contained in the following letter written by him (Castine) to Lieutenant Governor Dummer":"at Pentagoet, 23rd July,1725
Sir:--I have the honor to acquaint you that the 9th of this present month, as j rode at anchor in a small harbour about three miles distant from Nesket, having with me but one jndian and one Englishman whom j had redeemed from the savages, as well as my vessel, j was attacked by an Engish vessel, the commander of which called himself Lieutenant of the King's ship, and told me also his name, which j cannot remember.
Seeing myself thus attackt and not finding myself able to defend myself, j withdrew into the wood, forsaking my vessel. The commander of the vessel called me back promising me with an oath not to wrong me at all, saying that he was a merchant who had no design but to trade and was not fitted out for war, specially, when there was a talk of peace, and presently set up a flag of truce, and even gave me two safe conducts by writing, both which j have unhappyily lost in flight. Thus thinking myself safe enought, j came back on board my vessel, with my jndian and my Englishman, whom j brought to show that j had no thoughts of fighting, and that j had redeemed him from the jndians as well as the vessel. But as j was going to put on my clothes to dress myself more handsomely the commander who was come in my vessel with several of his people would not permit me to do it, telling me j was no more master of anything. He only granted me after many remonstrances to set me ashore.
But after j came down and they held forth to me a bag full of bisket that was given to me as they said as a payment for my Englishman. They did catch hold of me and the jndian who accompanied me, j got rid of him who was going to seize upon me, but my jndian not being able to do the same, j betook myself to arms-- and after several volleys j killed the man who kept him, and got him safe with me. This is the second time that j have been thus treacherously used, which proceedings j do not suppose that you approve of being against the laws of nations. Therefore j hope that you will do me the justice, or that at least you will cause me to be re-imbursed of the loss j have sustained.
For the vessel that cost me 80 French pistoles; For the Englishman 10 pistoles; 51 pounds of beaver that were in thhe vessel with 20 otters, 3 coats that have costed me twenty pence a pound; 2 pounds of powder at 4 livres a pound; 20 pounds of tobacco at 20 pence a pound; a pair of scales 8 livres; Tow cloth blankets each 23 livres; Tow bear skins 8 livres apiece; 4 skins of sea wolf 8 livres for the four; 3 axes 15 livres for both; 2 kettles, 30 livres for both, and several other matters, which they would not grant me, so much as a cup. The retaken Englishman knoweth the truth of all this, his name is Samuel Grass, * of the town of Salem near to Marblehead.
j have the honor to be
Your most humble & most
obedient Servant Joseph
Dabadis De St. Castin".
* This was Samuel Trask, to whom the following vote on the Danvers records refers, printed in Felt's Annals of Salem, 1st Edition, p.379: - "1725, April 30th, voted that the money, contributed for the redemption of Samuel Trask from the enemy, shall be appropriated for buying a bell; and that if said Trask should be heard of and stand in need of help for his redemption, that we will contribute towards it."
"The Trask here mentioned," says Mr. Felt, "belonged to Salem Village, and had been redeemed from the Indians by Monsieur Castin before July 9th, when he was taken away by the crew of an English bark."
In Felt's Annels, 2nd edition, vol. ii. p. 255, under date of July 7th, 1725, it is entered : - "Information is received that a sloop had been taken from the Indians, and Samuel Trask, of Salem Village, had been redeemed from Castine." - See "Samuel Trask's Adventures." in "Sewall's Ancient Dominions of Maine," p.251.
"Tales of a Wayside Inn"
Henry Wadsworth Longellow's "The Second Students Tale" which is part of "Tales of a Wayside Inn" tells the story of (Joseph's father) The Baron de St. Castine's father, who was at home in St. Castine, (a small town bordering the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain) longing to see his son again, who is in Arcadia. The Baron returned home in 1701 with his Indian Queen, child of Madockawando, "a dusky Tarratine".
The Baron was born, Jean Vincent de St. Castine at Oleron, France, one time Colonel in the King's Body Guard and Commander of "Carignan Salieres". He has also been referred to as Sieur de Badie and "Castine the Younger". In 1667 the Baron was discarged (when England surrendered The Province of Nova Scotia to the French) and came from Quebec to Pentagoet or Penobscot to live among the Indians. About the year 1687 he married the daughter of Madockawando, a Sagamore of the Tarratines. The Baron was legally married to her but was said to have had other wives. He fathered two sons, Anselm and Joseph Debadis as well as two daughters.
ReturnFrom Deborah and Peter Flood
Debbie, a genealogist living in Idaho, submitted over seventy pages of information about the descendants of Samuel Trask from Edgecomb, Maine. Her work includes numerous references from other genealogists and Vital Records. In 1994 she went to Edgecomb, Maine and viewed the graves of her family in several cemeteries. Her efforts and tenacity are reflected in the specifics of the Trasks from Edgecomb genealogy.
At the moment she is writing a book called "The Mighty Trask Sea Captains". Which is about Capt. Ebenezar Trask and several of his descendants that sailed to and from all corners of the world on some very prestigious ships. Debbie's maternal grandmother, 8-1. Mable Adele Trask, was born on board the clipper ship "Bohemia", off of the coast of Chile, which was commanded by 7-11. Capt. Gardner Gove Trask.
Debbie sent us information she found at the Wiscasset Public Library, i.e., "Samuel Trask-Captive and Pioneer", an article written by Virginia Chase in "Down East", Fanny Chase's Wiscasset in the History of the State of Maine, Documentary History of the State of Maine, and Collections of the Maine Historical Society.
Samuel(4) Elias(3) John(2) William Traske(1)
On 31 May 1784 Samuel Trask made this deposition before a Judge; "I, Samuel Trask, aged more than 80 years, have lived in Sheepscot River more than 48 years and in my first settlement there I was well acquainted with the Indians and well understoon their language, as in my younger days I was captivated by them and lived among them and frequently went up and down said river in canoes, rafts, and vessels. The Indians at that time used frequently to be and lodge at my house in numbers."
He was captured by the Indians sometime in 1711 and taken to the Penobscot region. Joseph Debadis de Castine purchased him from the Indians early in 1725 and held Samuel until at least July of 1725. Samuel retured to Salem and married Hannah Steward [sometimes recorded as Stewart] on December 28th 1730. Hannah was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Steward from Rowley, MA. They lived in Salem, MA during their first year, moved to Rowley by 1732 and finally settled in what was Freeetown now Edgecomb by 1744. He was an early settler on the Sheepscot "Where in years gone by, he had ofted visited and made a clearing on the east side of the river, near Folly Island. Trask, having lived a long time among the Indians of the Penobscot tribe, became quiet skilled as a physician, and when he came among the early settlers of Freetown he was known as Dr. Trask." He is also said to have initiated the story that Captain Kidd buried a pot of gold on Folly Island (F. Chase, Wiscasset in Pownalborough, p. 438 (note V. Chase's article indicates Capt. Kidd died before Samuel Trask was born!). Samuel died in Edgeconb on August of 1789. Hannah died there nine months later.
Captain Gardner Gove Trask
Obituary, San Francisco, CaliforniaCaptain Gardner Gove Trask died at 82 years, captain of the down easter sailing ship, the "Bohemina". Birth date on death certificate lists 20 October 1843. He was cremated at Cypress Lawn Crematory, Feb 15th 1926 and buried at sea.
The "Bohemia" was built by the Houghton Brothers, Bath Maine in 1875 (221.7' 40 X 25.5'-1663 tons). The "Bohemia" made 12 passages from Atlantic ports to San Francisco; one from Antwerp to Yoknohama, Kolbe to San Francisco; one from Cardiff to Rio de Janeiro, British Columbia to San Francisco; one from New York to Rio, Newcastle, Australia, Manila and Philadelphia. Average of her 12 passages to San Francisco is 132 days, one of 118 days from Liverpool being the shortest. From "A Maritime History of Bath, Maine and the Kennebec River", by Baker, 1973, Marine Research Society of Bath, p. 641 "Longest lived of the ships of the Houghtons' fleet was the 1,633-ton "Bohemia" which slid into the Kennebec on 16 September 1875. Bath was her home port for the many years that she was managed by her builders. The "Bohemia's" first master, Captain John P. Deleans, took her to New Orleans to load cotton and following a 29 day passage from Southwest Pass to Liverpool he sailed her to San Francisco in 124 days. After she came back to the Atlantic on her maiden voyage Captain Delano returned to the Houghtons' "Austria" that had been build for his command. Captain Gardiner G. Trask replaced him on the "Bohemia" and had her for nine voyages until 1890; third mate under him for a time was Sanuel R. Percy who later became a prominent shipbuilder at Bath. While crossing from Japan to San Francisco in 1880 the "Bohemia" was caught in a typhoon losing all three topgallant masts and nearly a complete suit of sails including those furled on the yards; gales and high seas continued for 14 days. Captain Trask received much credit for bringing her safely into San Francisco rather than putting back to Yokohama or some other Japanese port where repairs would have been expensive. Before being sold in 1897 to the Alaska Packers Association for use in connection with their salmon canneries the "Bohemia" made 12 passages from Atlantic ports to San Francisco; one from Antwerp to San Francisco via Japan; one from Cardiff to Rio de Janeiro, British Columbia, and San Francisco; and a voyage from New York to Rio, Newcastle in Australia, Manila, and Philadelphia. Of 11 passages from San Francisco to Atlantic ports ten were to Europe with grain. For a carrier the "Bohemia" sailed well and her 88-day passage from Manilia to the Delaware Breakwater was only four days over the record from the Philippines to any American Atlantic port. She arrived at Philadelphia several days before her papers which had been forwarded by steamer. Sold to shipbreakers in 1925 the "Bohemia" was spared and became part of C. B. Demille's "Hollywood Navy" in 1927 Renamed the "Yankee Clipper" she was featured in the motion picture (silent film) along with the Sewall-built "Indiana" which had had a similar career-launched in 1876, in the grain trade without serious accidents, sold to the Packers in 1898, and by them to shipbreakers in 1925. In 1931 with all sails set, the "Bohemia" faced three United States Navy submarines disguised as German U-boats in the filming of the motion picture "Suicide Fleet"; explosive charges on board and shells from the submarines' guns finally sent her to the botton." From "American Merchant Ships 1850-1900, series two", by Frederick C. Matthews, Salem Mass., Marine Research Society 1931, p. 42..they talked about the Bohemia and Trask ...."In later life he was prominent in San Francisco shipping affairs."
There is a landmark (a very large granite boulder) on the Maine coast by Penobscot Bay, near Castine, called "Trask's Rock". George Wheeler wrote, "At a place where the Americans landed, was commonly known as White Rock or Trask's Rock. A fifer boy by the name of [Honorable William] Trask [of Gloucester, one of the only survivors of the conflict, was then 14 years old], was behind this rock playing his fife while his comrades made the ascent up the bluff against the British who held the bay, on July 28, 1779. This Trask, some fifty-five years ago, (1820) visited the place, and pointed out to several citizens, the exact spot where the landing was made. Previously to Trask's visit, it was called "Hinchley's Rock," after a Captain who is said to have climbed upon it to cheer on his men, and to have been shot on the rock."
Bagaduce Expedition, 1779 written by Nathan Goold, 1898 - Web version 2000 by R. Hagen
THE DRUMMER BOY OF CASTINE — A GHOST STORY by The Wilson Museum Fall 1981 Vol. 2, No22
Castine’s most famous ghost is just over two hundred years old in its (his?) present spectral state. It originated in a small but fiercely contested battle of the Revolution, in the summer of 1779, when British troops held the peninsula of Castine and American forces were attempting to dislodge them. William Hutchins, who lived with his parents a few miles up the Bagaduce River, was only fourteen that summer, an active, energetic boy, he was interested in and curious about the activities at the peninsula; he visited ships in the harbor and fortifications on shore, “Being so young [he] was allowed to go on and off the peninsula but the soldiers used to call [him] a damned little rebel.” Years later he described the events of that summer to Joseph Stevens, Jr. — “One night the Americans undertook to surprise the English but they fell in with the British guard at Banks’s battery and had a sharp fight. Quite a number were killed on both sides. I afterwards saw up by the [Bagaduce] narrows some bloody uniforms tied up in a blanket that had been stripped from English soldiers who were killed that night. A drummer was killed that night of the skirmish at the battery near Banks’s house, and for a good many years after people used to say they could hear his ghost drumming there at midnight. Vivid, memories which remained all William’s long life; the battery had been built near the home of Aaron Banks whose wife Mary was a cousin of the Hutchins and young William lived near the narrows.
The town had grown, by the mid-nineteenth century, spreading to the west along the shore where Banks’s home and the battery had been. At the same time Fort George, though reduced to grassy mounds, was still impressive and, in that nearly treeless peninsula, visible for miles in every direction; no wonder then that the ghost moved from a vanished battery to the imposing remains of Fort George.
One corner of the fort was especially suited for a ghostly inhabitant. Fort George was built by the British in 1779, destroyed by them when they left early in 1784, rebuilt by British troops in 1814, surrendered in 1815 to Americans who staffed it until 1819 when it was again destroyed, the barracks and palisades removed and the magazine set on fire which, being covered with dirt continued burning “for many days till all fell in a solid mass as now seen.” However there remained, near the southwest corner an entrance leading to a small room or tunnel, its brick sides and ceiling holding the weight of the dirt and sod above, this naturally came to be known as the dungeon, and what could be more suitable for a ghostly residence?
With the ghost established in the dungeon of the fort, more dramatic stories arose as to its origin and habits. In July, 1876, a young lady (a delightful writer but a poor historian) visiting her grandparents in Castine wrote a friend - “There is an old fort with the ruins of its magazine and its dungeon into which one can still go a little way - which was made at the time of the revolution and was used again in 1812. There is a story, which I think is true, about the dungeon. I have forgotten what war it was in but will tell you what I remember. The English had defeated the Americans and were deserting the fort. They marched away one night at 9 o’clock with their trumpet blowing and bugle playing and entirely forgot a little American drummer boy who had been imprisoned in the dungeon. The boy beat his drum with all his might but they did not hear - The sound of his drum was heard all night - The inhabitants thought it came from the English troops. A year after, I think on the fifteenth of March, it was exactly the same kind of night as just a year before when the British went - stormy and a high wind and the sound of a drum came from the dungeon - at nine o’clock and was heard all through the night (that part is a little legendary, I suppose, but the next isn’t). The next day the dungeon was opened and near the door was found the skeleton of the poor little drummer boy, still clasping the old drum - It makes the old dungeon a melancholy place. The old women about the town shake their heads and talk mysteriously about a ghost which comes from the dungeon and promenades the fort the fifteenth of every month ...”
Six years later Noah Brooks’s account of the ghost appeared in The Century Magazine, another tale of more charm than of historical accuracy. A “more authentic ghost, however, is that of a little drummer-boy who was left imprisoned in the dungeon of Fort George, when the British evacuated Castine, after the signing of the treaty of Ghent (1814). Forgotten in the hurry of embarkation, the lad was left to starve to death. The dungeon was not opened until years afterward, and when the visitors explored its darkness they found the skeleton of the prisoner drooped over his dust-covered drum. Fortunately for the truth of history, the date of this tragical occurrence is fixed, and as the British evacuated the place in April, we can understand why, on the fifteenth night of each month of April, ever since, a ghostly drum-beat issues from the ruined dungeon, as if the shade of the imprisoned drummer-boy strove to attract the attention of the troops marching away from the fort to the shore.”
Forty or fifty years later the ghost had changed again; not in habitat but in other ways. Katharine Butler Hathaway chronicled its activities in The Little Locksmith published in 1943. She wrote of the young American drummer boy, only fourteen years old who drummed for three days and nights until he died and how “Every year in the last week of August when the moon is full, as it was at the time he perished, you can hear him drumming again for three nights underground.”
We do not know the age of the drummer killed that August night in 1779, but we know that the ghostly drummer became, first a little American drummer, then a fourteen-year-old American drummer. The youth and especially the age of fourteen may have been an unconscious transfer from one or both of two boys involved in the events of that summer. One of these was William Hutchins himself, fourteen years old and soon to enlist in the Continental Army. The other was Israel Trask, also fourteen, a fifer, who had enlisted in Massachusetts and was serving on the Black Prince when it sailed for Penobscot. Israel first entered the army when he was ten, at twelve and thirteen he sailed on privateers and, after the Black Prince was blown up in the Penobscot River he walked home to Gloucester through the wilderness. Israel Trask was famous in Castine, he had landed with the assault party on the west shore of the peninsula and found shelter from British gunfire behind a large white granite boulder; nearly forty years later, when he revisited Castine, his young friends took him to the boulder and wrote on it in large letters “Trask - 1779.” Until the 20th century Trask’s Rock was frequently visited and much photographed. These fourteen-year-old boys, William and Israel, may account for the age of the legendary drummer.
The drummer has been heard from but little in recent years. Twenty or more years ago the old “dungeon” was excavated and rebuilt with more enthusiasm than knowledge, Fort George became a state park with historic signs and parking facilities - the drummer may be looking for a new home. However, it is not forgotten, in 1976 when attention was focused on the revolution the drummer walked again - and as it walked and drummed, it acquired a following - a few inhabitants woke and dressed and came out to march along Perkins and up Main with the drummer boy.Sources Manuscripts in the Wilson Museum: - Stevens Collection, conversations with William Hutchins. - A letter dated July 24, 1876, signed “Bell” Noah Brooks, “An Old Town with a History,” September, 1882, Century Magazine Katharine Butler Hathaway, The Little Locksmith, 1943, Coward-McCann John C. Dann, editor, The Revolution Remembered, 1980, University of Chicago Press.The Wilson Museum, 120 Perkins Street, PO Box 196, Castine, Maine 04421
ReturnFrom Juel M. Trask (my 8th cousin and "Pard")
Marvin Warner Trask, and his brother Josiah Trask set out for the west on Marvin's return from the war. Marvin, as a veteran of the War of 1812, could well have intended to claim bounty lands. Marvin W. and Josiah Trask are listed in the Census of 1820 as living in Monroe County, Illinois. Monroe County is located across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. The brothers were decedents of Osmond Traske one of the "Old Planters" of the Massachusetts Bay Plantation. The brother's father, Sampson Trask, was a Revolutionary War soldier and was born in Monson, MA. Sampson first married Huldah Steere of Stafford, CN. After Huldah died, Sampson married Ruth Blodgett. There is some evidence that Ruth died and that Sampson married again before Thomas Putnam was born, somewhere in upstate New York. Sampson Trask died around 1810. He probably died in upstate New York since Marvin W. Trask ran away as a bound boy and joined Captain Asa Sizer's Company of the New York Militia on November 14, 1812 at Utica, NY. Being bound out was a form of apprenticeship or indentured servitude that was legal for a long time in this country. It was what happened to many young persons whose parents died. A legal contract was signed between the adult in charge of the young person and the person they were bound to for a specific period of time. The person who bound out the young person received a sum of money from the person who bought the bound out person. The new master was obligated to care for the bound person for a specific number of years. Marvin W. enlisted as a trumpeter and took part in the "Battle of Sackett's Harbor" in upstate New York.
Some time during the 1820's Thomas Putnam Trask moved west and joined his older brother Marvin Warner in Webster (Palmer today) at the lead mines in Washington County, Missouri. Josiah married Hannah Varnum on March 1, 1822 in Illinois. He joined his brothers in Missouri sometime after Hannah's death around 1842.
Marvin W. Trask had settled in Missouri as early as 1826, part of the Louisiana Purchase, and married a widow, Alice Stewart Steen, November 18, 1827 at Webster Mines. Thomas Putnam Trask married Mary "Polly" Campbell (the daughter of a Scotsman, Samuel Campbell) on October 3, 1828 at Webster Mines. Samuel Campbell had a Spanish Land Grant in Upper Louisiana. This was in the days when France had sold Louisianna to Spain, repurchased it but not officially taken it back over. It was required that any Americans take an allegiance to the Catholic church to get a Spanish land grant. That must have been tough for those Protestant Scots Irish frontiersmen. Elbridge Trask went further west about the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Polly Campbell was born in upper Louisiana before the purchase from France by President Jefferson. Marvin W. Trask filed for lands on Huzzah Creek near where Gibbs school was later built in Crawford County. Thomas Putnam filed for lands on Dry Creek near where the Westover Mill was later built. Josiah Trask came to Crawford County and married Rachael Cartwright on July 5, 1846. He settled in the Liberty Township area.
Marvin W. and Thomas Putnam Trask were both buried on their farms. Marvin Trask is buried on his old homestead east of Steelville. I kept searching until I found his grave. He is buried beside his first wife and with Mr. and Mrs. Clonts out in the woods near where his house used to stand. The cattle had knocked over his tall headstone. My two younger sons and Stanley Scott of Steelville and I put up a fence to keep the cattle out [picture]. No one has beem able to locate the grave of Josiah Trask. He is probably buried on his old farm. His farm could probably be found by researching the Crawford County land records.
All three brothers became very much envolved in the public life of Crawford County and the State of Missouri. Marvin W. Trask was the surveyor of Crawford County and in 1844 was it's representative in the State Legislature. Thomas Putnam Trask was an early Justice Of The Peace in Crawford County. Josiah Trask was the overseer of roads in Liberty Township.
They all had large farms and the first few pages of the first land claims book of Crawford County is filled with entries filed under the brothers names. Thomas Putnam Trask was envolved in mining lead. In 1850 Thomas Putnam and his son Andrew Henry went overland to California and successfully engaged in gold mining for ten years. They travelled to California with a large party of men. These men's names can be found on the 1850 census records of California. Thomas Putnam and Andrew returned to Missouri on ships by the way of Panama and the Mississippi River.
Modern day decendents of Thomas Putnam and Joshia Trask still live in Missouri and nearby states. The Only decendent of Marvin W. Trask known to still live in Crawford County is Stanley Scott of Steelville, MO. Three sons of Marvin W. Trask left Steelville and moved to San Francisco, California. One of these brothers was Eugene Trask. In 1871 he helped set the type of the first newspaper in Crawford County. He married Mary Johansen in 1879 (b: 2-1858 Marlbo City, Island of Loland, Denmark, daughter of Jorgene and Anna Johanson from Denmark). They had at least four children. In 1880, after clerking in a drug store for several years, he established his own drug store in Steelville, MO and was a member of the Missouri State Pharmaceutical Association. In 1884 Eugene was elected (1886 re-elected) County Treasurer.
Andrew Henry Trask [picture] married Melzinia Moutray, a Scots woman, on February 24, 1853 in Washington Co., MO. In 1862 Andrew H. Trask enlisted in the Union Army, Company E, 32nd Missouri Infantry, and took part in the battles of Chickasaw Bluff and Arkansas Post. He held the rank of Sergeant, and after one year's service was discharged on account of ill health. Only seven of their fourteen children lived to maturity. Once Greatgrandpa Andrew Trask was up near St., Louis and got word that greatgrandma Melzenia was sick. He rode a big white stallion back home in record time. That white stallion had a reputation all over the country for his speed and endurance. Old timers still talk about that stallion and the ride. Everyone wanted to breed their mare to the stallion. Melzinia's father, James H. Moutray, was a gunsmith who lived with the Delaware Indian Tribe. He had left North Carolina at age 18 and worked his way west, stopping to fight in the Kentucky Indian wars. He worked for General William Ashley at the lead diggins in Washington County Missouri. He also worked for the infamous John Smith T., the duelist. During the War of 1812, he was a Lt. in Major Andrew Henry's company. Thomas Putnam Trask named his first son after Major Andrew Henry. I did several years research on Major Andrew Henry. I have contemplated writing a book about him, but the problem is, he never kept a journal like others in the fur trade did. I'm sure, that is why no one has ever written a book about him. I still found lots of other journals others kept with information about him.
Great grandma Melzinia Moutray Trask's brother, Septimus Riley Moutray "Sept", went on a wagon train to California in 1846. He hired on to drive a team of oxen for a man named Laird. He got married on the trail and it all is recorded in diaries people on the train kept. See Bernard DeVoto's book "Across The Wide Missouri" for a description of the trailside wedding. All the Hollywood depictions of Weddings on the Oregon trail, I suspect are taken from the description of Uncle Septs wedding. If you have ever read Francis Parkman's book "The Oregon Trail", this wagon train is the one that Parkman and the half breed Dorian visited to buy the horse from at Fort Laramie. Parkman had a very low opinion of the frontiersmen in the wagon train. When the train got to Bridger's Fort in what is Southwest Wyoming today, part of the train decided to take a shortcut to the great saltlake. A man named Hastings convinced part of the wagon train that they could save a lot of time on his cutoff. It was true that it was a shorter route to the Saltlake, but was difficult to get the wagons over the route. The part of the train that the Lairds and Uncle Sept were on, went the regular way. When they got to California, Uncle Sept and his wife went to Sutter Fort and sawmill. That was before the gold strike there. In the spring a message came in to Sutter's Fort that the other party was trapped in the Snow of the high Sierras and starving. Uncle Sept and several of the men at Sutters Fort went to a ranch near Donner's Pass and using snowshoes and each carrying as much food as they could, they hiked into the pass. They found the people in a starving condition and some had turned to eating the dead bodies to survive. Each of the rescuers carried out a child on their backs and taking another load of food went back to the pass. I don't remember how many trips they made back to the pass. Uncle Sept was supposed to get a cash reward from the US Government, but they never came through. Septimus Riley Moutray, great grandma's brother, is buried in California without even a headstone.
Henry Septon Trask is my grandfather Julius Trask's brother. The Henry in his name came from his father and the Septon came from my great-grandmother's brother, Riley Septemus Moutray. Uncle Sept got struck by lightning and killed west of Miami, Ok. He had a metal pan over his head and was trying to rescue some baby chicks in a hail storm. He was the oldest child of Judge Andrew Henry Trask that lived. He had a brother and sister that died during the Civil War. When greatgrandpa came home from fighting on the Union side, Uncle Sept was the only one of the three children still alive. There was an epidemic of Scarlet Fever that killed many children during the Civil War.
My father, Haskell Scott Trask, served two terms as Mayor of Fairland, OK and was a School Administrator. My grandfather, Julius E. Trask was Sheriff of Crawford Co. MO and carried out his duties on horseback. He carried his pistol in his saddlebags, not on his hip. My great grandfather was Judge, Andrew Henry Trask, the presiding judge of the County Court for years. My great-great grandfather was Thomas Putnam Trask. He was a "Justice of the Peace" in the early Missouri Territory days.
"We're just a bunch of Bostons living in the west."
From Juel M. Trask
Elbridge Trask was born on July 15, 1815 at Beverly, Massachusetts and died on 6-22-1863 Tillamook, OR. He is buried at the Fairview Pioneer Cemetery near the Trask River.
Elbridge is the son of John Trask, b: 5-7-1780 Beverly, Essex, MA [s. Osman + Molly(VR)] also a mariner and Bethia or Bethiah Twiss married on 12-5-1802 Beverly, Essex, MA (VR), b: 12-10-1781 Beverly, Essex, MA [s. Robert + Huldah(VR)] Elbridge is a descendent of Osmunde Traske. At this writting, there is at least one direct Trask descendents of Elbridge named Trask 1.
The Trask family was one of the earliest pioneer families of the Bay Plantation. They had lived for generations at Trent and East Coker, Somersetshire, England. Captain William Trask, a cousin of Osmund Trask had been at the fishing station at Cape Ann before John Endecott arrived with the first shipload of settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Company.2 Captain William Trask later became the military commander of the Bay Plantation.
During the nineteenth century an atmosphere of excitement and adventure existed in the Bay Plantation. Men and ships from the area spread all over the world seeking trade and adventure. It was in this atmosphere that a Boston ice merchant named Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth became interested in the business prospects of the Oregon country. He enrolled in Hall Jackson Kelley's American Society for Encouraging the Settlement of Oregon, founded in 1829.3 In 1831 Nathaniel Wyeth organized a joint-stock company to trade for furs on the Columbia River.
In 1832, Wyeth set out with a small company of men, to travel across the continent to the Oregon country. Before Wyeth had left Massachusetts he had made arrangements to make purchases of trade goods from the brig "Sultana" which was sailing later to the mouth of the Columbia River. Wyeth's harrowing adventures in crossing the continent have been well documented. He witnessed many exciting events including the 1832 fur trappers rendezvous at Pierre's Hole west of the Teton Mts. On reaching the Columbia River, Wyeth learned that the brig "Sultana" had wrecked in the South Pacific.
After a couple of years of business maneuvers and adventures in the west, Wyeth decided to take a supply trade goods to the Columbia country. On July of 1834 he began work on a fur trading post on the Snake River in what is today southern Idaho. He named the post Fort Hall. He had made arrangements in January of that year for the Captain of the ill-fated brig "Sultana" to bring another ship loaded with supplies to the Columbia River. Captain James Lambert arrived at the Columbia from Oahu with the brig "May Dacre" in mid-september. Since Weyth had planned to fill the "May Dacre" with dried salmon for the return to Boston and the salmon run had already taken place, he dispatched the "May Dacre" on another trading trip to the Hawaiian Islands.
One of the crew on the "May Dacre" was the young adventure seeker Elbridge Trask. He has been described as being nearly six feet tall, weighing two hundred muscular pounds, with deep set blue eyes and red hair.4 Osborne Russell, a companion of Elbridge, describes him as being a great easy good natured fellow but having been bred a sailor and not much of a landsman, woodsman or hunter.5 He must have been a fast learner because in the ensuing years Elbridge survived many harrowing escapades.
Elbridge spent the summer of 1835 working with the crew of the "May Dacre" at Fort William on Sauve Island.6 September 30, 1835, he signed a contract to work for Captain Wyeth's Columbia River Fishing and Trading company as a trapper at Fort Hall. They arrived at Fort Hall on December 9, 1835. The group of new recruits was composed of sailors from the "May Dacre", Sandwich Islanders (Hawaiians) and Kanakas indians.7
Early in 1836, Captain Joseph Thing took a group of trappers from the fort south to the region of the Portneuf River.8 Here under the tutorage of experienced trappers and hunters, Elbridge and the other greenhorns learned hunting and trapping skills. Jo Tuthill describes Elbridge as a " quiet young man, given to listening and staying in the background, while the more boisterous trappers spun their half truths around the campfire at night in the long winter days and nights at the camp ".9
The trappers returned to Fort Hall and received their discharge from Captain Wyeth's company during the summer of 1836. Jo Tuthill says Elbridge joined the American Fur Company under the command of Andrew Dripps. If Elbridge joined with Dripps company of trappers, he most likely joined them at the 1836 fur trappers rendezvous which was to begin July 1 at the mouth of Horse Creek on the Green River. Wyeth had arrived on the first with a small party of men and it is likely that Elbridge was in that group.
The 1836 rendezvous was unusual because the supply train of the American Fur Company brought with it from Missouri the first two white women to come over trail to the Oregon Country. Narcissa Whitman, the recent bride of missionary Doctor Marcus Whitman and Eliza Spalding, The wife of Reverend Henry Hart Spalding.10 Also with the supply caravan from Missouri was the Scottish nobleman Captain William Drummond Stewart. The caravan had been given a Rocky Mountain welcome two days before arriving at the rendezvous site by a group of trappers and indians, who had heard that white women were in the group. The welcoming party had come charging up to the train firing their rifles over the caravans heads and giving out with blood curdling screams and war hoops.11
Where Elbridge Trask spent the fall of 1836 and the spring of 1837 is not known because the travels of Andrew Dripps and his trappers have not been documented. The historians Dale Morgan and Eleanor Harris have speculated that Dripps trapped the Snake River during the spring hunt of 1837.
Elbridge probably attended the fur rendezvous of 1837, located again on the Green River at the mouth of Horse Creek. This rendezvous was distinguished by being the first Rocky Mountain fur fair to be documented visually. Captain William Drummond Stewart had returned and brought with him the artist Alfred Jacob Miller. Miller's paintings of the rendezvous give us our only visual images of the famous Rocky Mountain rendezvous. Perhaps Elbridge Trask is one subjects in Miller's works.
Miller also recorded with an artists eye for detail a verbal description of the scene. "The scene represented is the broad prairie; the whole plain is dotted with lodges and tents, with groups of indians surrounding them;-In the river near the foreground indians are bathing; to the left rises a bluff overlooking the plain whereon are stationed some braves and indian women. In the midst of them is Capt. Bridger in a full suit of armor. This gentleman was a famous mountain man, and we venture to say that no one has travelled here within the last 30 years without seeing or hearing of him. The suit of armor was imported from England and presented to Capt. B. by our commander;-it was a fac-simile of that worn by the English life-guards, and created a sensation when worn by him on stated occasions."12
At the 1837 rendezvous, Andrew Dripps gave over the command of the trapper brigade to Lucien Fontenelle. Dripps was to return to Saint Louis with the years harvest of furs.13 Where Elbridge Trask travelled during the 1837-1838 trapping season is documented by Kit Carson.
"We reached rendezvous at the mouth of Horse Creek on the Green River in six days. We remained here about twenty days, When McCoy went back to Fort Hall and I joined Fontenelles party bound for the Yellowstone. The party was one hundred strong-fifty trappers and fifty camp-keepers. We had met with so much opposition from the Blackfeet that this time, as we were in force, we determined to trap wherever we pleased, even if we had to fight for the right."
"We trapped the Yellowstone, Otter, and Musselshell rivers and then went up the Big Horn and on to the Powder River, where we wintered." "We remained in our camp on Powder River till the first of April, 1838. The time passed pleasantly, but it was one of the coldest winters I have experienced. We had to keep our animals in a corral for fear of losing them. Their feed was cottonwood bark, which we pull from the trees and thaw out by the fire."
"We had to keep the buffalo from our camp by building large fires in the bottoms. They came in such large droves that our horses were in danger of being killed when we turned them out to eat the branches of the trees we cut down."
"We now commenced our hunt, trapping the same streams we had trapped in the fall. We traveled to the Yellowstone and up the Twenty-Five-Yard River to the Three Forks of the Missouri, and then up the North Fork of the Missouri." "We continued up the North Fork of the Missouri to the head of the Green River where an express overtook us with the news that the annual rendezvous would be held on the Wind River. We set out for that place and arrived in eight days."14
Osborne Russell, Who had joined Fontenelle's Trapping party at their winter quarters on the Powder River, gave a description of trapper's equipment in the party. "A trappers equipments in such cases is generally one animal upon which is placed one or two Epishemores a riding saddle and bridle a sack containing six beaver traps a blanket with an extra pair of mocasins his powder horn and bullet pouch with a belt to which is attached a butcher knife a small wooden box containing bait for beaver a tobacco sack with a pipe and implements for making fire with sometimes a hatchet fastened to the pommel of his saddle his personal dress is a flannel or cotton shirt (if he is fortunate enough to obtain one, if not Antelope skin answers the purpose of over and under shirt) a pair of leather breeches with Blanket of smoked Buffaloe skin, leggings a coat made of Blanket or Buffaloe robe a hat or cap of wool, Buffaloe or Otter skin, his hose are pieces of blanket lapped around his feet which are covered with a pair of moccasins made of Dressed Deer Elk or Buffaloe skins with his long hair falling loosely over his shoulders completes his uniform. He then mounts and places his rifle before him on his saddle."15 This description gives us a general idea of how Elbridge Trask might have appeared if we could have seen him in 1837.
It was in 1838 after joining trapping brigade of Fontenelle, with Jim Bridger as pilot, that Osborne Russell begins to refer in his journal to his old comrade on March 30, 1839 as being Elbridge Trask.16
Osborne Russell and Elbridge had gone to the Green River thinking the summer renzdevous was being held there only to find a note stuck on the wall of an old log cabin used to store supplies at the past rendezvous. The note said the whites were to be found at the Forks of the Wind River.17 This was not good news to Osborne and Elbridge as their animals were fatigued. The two crossed around the south end of the Wind River range to the south flowing fork of the Wind River which is known as the Popo Agie River.
The 1838 rendezvous was held on the Popo Agie River just upstream from where it joins with the Wind River to form the River known as the Big Horn River. Andrew Dripps had brought the supply train from Saint Louis that year. Sir William Drummond Steward was with the train for the last time since his older brother had died and Steward had inherited the family title and estates and now must return home to assume the burdens the title brought with it.18
Andrew Dripps and Jim Bridger were to take the trapping brigade out for the 1838-39 trapping season. The main question on every ones mind when the 1838 renzdevous came to an end was whether there would be a renzdevous in 1839. The number of beaver pelts the trappers had brought to the 1838 renzdevous was substantially less than had been brought in during previous years. Pierre Chouteau, head of the company, was wondering if it was worth the effort to sent a supply train in 1839.
Osborne Russell and Elbridge Trask left the renzdevous site on the 20th of July with 30 trappers. They travelled up the Wind River. Elbridge and Osborne left the main body of trappers and crossed southward over a high ridge into the valley of the Gros Ventre Fork of the Snake River. They travelled down the Gros Ventre Fork about 20 miles and crossed over a ridge to the north and into the valley of a stream flowing into the Snake River about 10 miles below Jackson Lake. They trapped here until July 29th and then crossed back over the ridge to the Gros Ventre where they found Dripps and Bridger with about sixty men.19
Osborne and Elbridge left the main party again and picked up their traps over the ridge to the north. They then travelled to the west and across the Tetons to the Henry's Fork River. They trapped for several days and found the main party on the Middle Fork of the Henry's. The Henry's Fork River is named after Andrew Henry, who was a partner in the Saint Louis Missouri Fur Company. The Missouri Fur company was organized 1808. Andrew Henry was chosen to take a party up the Missouri to the Three Forks. After much trouble with the Blackfeet, Henry had crossed from the Three Forks of the Missouri over a pass to a lake and river to the south. In 1811, Henry built what was to be the first American post west of the Rockies on the Stream that bears his name.20
On August 11th, the day after they had joined the main camp, Elbridge and Osborne were off again to trap the stream they had just left. They trapped the Henry's fork region until September 7th when they began travelling down the river toward Fort Hall. They stayed at Fort Hall until the 20th of September. From then until October 5th, they trapped the Raft River with ten other men. On October 18th they started with six men to hunt buffalo for winter meat. By late November the weather had become cold and the snow was fifteen inches deep. Returning to the fort, they stayed there until January 1st.
They had become tired of dried meat and decided to travel with four other men to where the Lewis Fork leaves the mountains. There they planned to spend the rest of the winter killing and eating mountain sheep. They arrived at their destination on the 20th of January having been followed there by seven lodges of Snake Indians. Here they found plenty of meat in the form of mountain sheep, elk and buffalo. They also found some open water in beaver ponds and were able to take some in their traps.
On March 18th the winter weather began to break so Elbridge, Osborne and two Canadians began to move up the river to begin the spring hunt. They traveled over the mountains to the head of Gray's Creek. There the two Canadians left them and Elbridge and Osborne trapped the headwaters of Gray's Creek until April 25th. Travelling to the head of Gray's Marsh, they cached their furs on May 2nd. Needing salt to preserve their furs they travelled to a salt spring on the headwaters of the Salt River to the east. Here they found twelve of their former trapping companions who were also after salt. Elbridge and Osborne remained there two nights and left to go back to Gray's Marsh. Picking up their fur they returned to Fort Hall on the 5th of June.21 The fort now belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company.
They remained at the fort until June 26th when they left with a Missourian named White and a French Canadian to trap the Yellowstone and Wind River Mountains. They spent the forth of July at the outlet of Jackson Lake. Osborne caught twenty trout which they ate with buffalo meat and coffee for their Independence day feast. Travelling up the east side of the lake they followed the Lewis Fork to Lewis Lake where they camped on July 9th. Going along the west side of the lake they came to Shoshone Lake. The next day they travelled along the Shoshone Lake to the northwest side where they encountered the Shoshone Geyser Basin. After spending several hours observing the thermal activities they travelled north a few miles to the Firehole River. They spent the next few days trapping the Old Faithful region. After marvelling over the thermal features they travelled on July 16th down the east side of the Firehole River to the Gibbon River which they followed eastward. Leaving the Gibbon they travelled southward to Hayden Valley on July 18th.
The four men followed the Yellowstone River from Hayden Valley to where it leaves Yellowstone Lake. They made camp at the outlet of the lake. Remaining there they trapped the beaver streams in the region. July 28th they travelled to what they called "Secluded Valley" and what is known today as Lamar Valley. They remained in this region trapping the headwaters of Pebble Creek until August 9th. Leaving Lamar Valley they travelled northwest across the mountains until they reached the Yellowstone River where they travelled north along the Yellowstone until they had reached a point near the open plains.
Some of the party insisted on going out onto the plains to hunt buffalo. Osborne was against this as he thought it was too dangerous to run the buffalo out in the open where the Blackfeet might notice the commotion. The men returned that night with buffalo meat and the information that a village of 300 to 400 lodges had left the river a couple of days earlier. Crossing the Yellowstone they followed the river to the mouth of The Gardner River which they followed southward to an open valley known as Gardner's hole.
Returning southeastward across the ridges they returned to Lamar Valley on August 26th. The next day they travelled to the outlet of Yellowstone Lake and set up camp on Pelican Creek just upstream from where the Highway crosses Pelican Creek today. Elbridge left camp with the Canadian trapper to hunt while Osborne and White were left in camp alone. They were camped on a bench about twenty feet high on the southeast side of Pelican Creek. This bench runs parallel to Pelican Creek and is covered with pines. While White slept, Russell went to a spot about thirty or forty feet from where they were sleeping to cut some meat from some they had drying in the sun. He pulled off his powder horn and bullet pouch and laid them on a log. After eating, Osborne made a fire and sat down to smoke. The area behind the camp was thick with down timber. Looking out into the open meadow near the creek Russell checked on the grazing horses. To his astonishment he saw the heads of some Blackfeet slipping along below the edge of the bench and within thirty steps of him. Jumping for his rifle he awakened White. Looking for his powder horn and bullet pouch he saw that they were already in the hands of one of the indians. The indians now had Russell and White completely surrounded. Cocking their rifles they boldly started for the woods behind the camp.
The Blackfeet stepped back and opened up a path about twenty feet wide. Russell and White plunged through this gauntlet of screaming Blackfeet. After running only a few steps White took an arrow in the right hip. Instantly afterwards Osborne also was hit by an arrow in his right hip. Both men continued to run for the down timber behind the camp. In a few more leaps, Russell took another arrow in the right leg above the knee. This caused him to fall on his chest across a log. The indian who has shot him in the leg was only eight feet away and sprung at Russell with an uplifted war axe. Osborne rolled to the side and avoided the blow. Hopping from log to log the two trappers moved through a hail of arrows from the surrounding Blackfeet. After moving about ten paces beyond the indians, White and Russell turned and took aim at the braves. This action made the Blackfeet duck behind the trees and begin firing their rifles at the beleaguered trappers. Running and hopping another fifty yards into the down timber, Russell and White made a stand behind some thick logs. Determined to die like men, they aimed their rifles across the top of the logs to where the indians would appear. They determined to kill the first two blackfeet whenever they turned their eyes toward the trappers. The Blackfeet came into view and splitting into two files passed on either side of the pile of logs the trappers were in without ever seeing the lucky men. Passing on into the woods behind the trappers the forty to fifty indians disappeared into the trees.
After the sound of the indians died away Russell and White hobbled toward the lake. Russell who had lost a lot of blood, moved very slowly and became very thirsty from the blood loss. Reaching the lake, Osborne crawled to the water from the trees and brought back some water in his hat. White became very depressed over their plight and despaired that they were going to die. Russell who was the older, convinced White that all was not lost and they could survive.
Covering themselves with leaves and needles they spent the night in the covering shelter of the trees. On awaking in the morning, Russell was so stiff from his wounds that he could not stand with out Whites help. Using a couple of sticks for crutches, Russell hobbled with White to a thick grove of pines. They had only entered the protection of the pines, when they heard indians talking and singing. In a few moments sixty Blackfeet passed near the grove where the two trappers were hiding. Sighting some elk swimming in the lake, the indians began firing on the animals killing several. Dragging the elk ashore, the indians proceeded to butcher the elk in full view of the trappers. The indians remained near the grove for three hours while they butchered and packed the meat. Moving up the shore of the lake about a mile, the indians camped.
Leaving their hiding place in the pine grove, Russell and White made their way back toward their camp site on Pelican Creek. Keeping in the thick timber, they slowly made their way with White carrying Osborne's rifle. Reaching the camp site they found the Canadian trapper searching around in the trees.
Inquiring where Elbridge was, the Canadian told them that he and Elbridge had returned to camp the evening before and the indians had pursued them into the wood where he and Elbridge had separated. He had not seen Elbridge since then. Looking about to see what the Blackfeet had left, all they could find was a bag of salt. The indians had taken their horses, furs and all their gear.
Leaving a message on a tree telling Elbridge which directions they were going, they walked down to the shore of the lake and began following the shore toward the west. They stopped for the night and built a fort of logs to shield themselves from the cold wind. During the night their fire set the trees on fire and they had to move to a different site. Reaching the Yellowstone River they made a raft of logs and crossed to the other side. There they build a fire and rested for the day, hoping that Elbridge would see their smoke and find them.
Osborne bathed his wounds in salt water and made a salve of beaver's oil and castoreum. This eased the pain and took out some of the swelling but he was still very stiff. Travelling down the west side of Yellowstone Lake, they camped at some hot springs where they killed an elk. This was probably the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Having no blankets and very few clothes they spent a miserable night freezing on one side and buring from the hot fire on the other.
Leaving the lake at the hot springs they travelled south to Heart Lake. One of the hunters had killed a deer and Osborne wrapped the skin around himself and managed to sleep more than four hours. This refreshed Osborne and they walked around the east side of Heart Lake and travelling over some very rough hills camped at the forks of the Lewis Fork River where they had followed the west fork to Lewis Lake on July 9th.22
They were over one hundred miles from Fort Hall and they presumed that Elbridge was dead. Moving down the Lewis Fork to Jackson Lake, they travelled along the west side of the Lake and crossed over a pass to the Henry's Fork. Passing down the Henry's Fork they reached the Snake River on September 4th. Travelling with out eating they reached Fort Hall in two days. At the fort, Osborne made a quick recovery and was out trapping beaver again ten days later.
On September 13th, Elbridge arrived at the fort. Not knowing the country they were in when attacked by the Blackfeet, he had wandered for several days until he came upon the trail they had followed in the summer. Following this trail which he was familiar with he found his way back to the fort alone. His woodsman skills must have improved considerably from what they had been in March when Osborne had evaluated him as being more of a sailor than a woodsman.
On October 20th, Elbridge and Osborne joined a party of fifteen men who left Fort Hall to travel to the Jefferson Fork of the Missouri to kill buffalo for winter meat. Returning to the forks of the Snake River, the hunting party planned to spend the winter there. Elbridge, Osborne, White and Alfred Shutes decided to return and spend the winter near the fort.
Pitching their leather tepee in a cottonwood grove near the fort, they turned their horses loose to care for themselves. Since the men had enough meat and provisions to last until spring, they had nothing to do but gather firewood and amuse themselves. Elbridge, Osborne, White and Alfred Shutes spent the winter in their snug lodge reading books from the Hudson's Bay Company's library a Fort Hall.23 The books they read included works by Byron, Shakespeare, Scott, the bible and Clark's commentary on the bible. They also read works on chemistry, geology and philosophy. A fur trappers University of the Rockies.
The winter was mild with very little snow and on March 10, 1840, Elbridge and Osborne set out for their old spring trapping grounds at Gray's Marsh. Finding a spot bare of snow on a south facing slope they set up camp. The snow in the valley was three feet deep and they soon suffered from snow blindness.
At this point, Elbridge and Osborne had a disagreement about what to do. Elbridge wanted to travel the Salt Fork to kill some buffalo and Osborne felt that the streams were too high to cross. The men parted company on May 20th. Elbridge packed his horses and set out to hunt buffalo on the Salt Fork. Osborne's fear of high water turned out to be correct as Elbridge lost his traps while crossing the Gray's River.
Soon after losing his traps in the Gray's River, Elbridge met another hunting party and returned to Fort Hall with them on June 15th. Elbridge found Osborne at the fort. He tried to get Osborne to join with him and some other men to hunt the Yellowstone Mountains. Osborne, who was still irritated about Elbridge leaving to hunt buffalo on the Salt Fork, declined the invitation. Elbridge must have returned to the Yellowstone country for the summer of 1840.
The rendezvous of 1840 was again held on the Green River. The fur trade had declined so much that this was the last time that a supply train brought supplies from Saint Louis. It seems likely that Elbridge would have attended this last rendezvous since he had not missed one since coming to the mountains.
In September of 1841 Elbridge, Osborne and Alfred Shutes again set out together to hunt. The hunted in the region of the Soda Springs on the Bear River and then travelled to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Returning to Fort Hall in November.
Remaining at the fort only a few days, they set out to trap the headwaters of the Portneuf until the freeze up. Russell noted in his journals, "it was time for the white man to leave the mountains as beaver and game had nearly disappeared".24 If this loss of game was a problem to the continuation of free life as the trappers had lived it, it was a total tragedy for the misfortunate indians who did not have the alternatives the white men had. Elbridge, Osborne and Alfred spent the winter at Fort Hall again. The winter of 1841-42 was unusually cold and snowy.
In June a party from the Columbia River arrived at the fort on their way to the United States. Alfred Shutes, who was homesick for his native Vermont decided to travel with the party to return to his home. Elbridge and Osborne also decided to give up the free mountain life and settle down in the Oregon country. On August 22, 1842, Elbridge and Osborne joined a wagon train led by Dr. Elijah White that was bound for the Willamette Valley in the Oregon country.25 On the wagon train to Oregon was Hannah Able, a young widow from Indiana with a baby daughter. She was travelling with the W. T. Perry wagon. Not having been around any single, young, white women in years, Elbridge was taken by Hannah's charms. On arriving at Willamette falls, Elbridge married Hannah on October 20, 1842.26
Elbridge and Hannah took up residence on the Clatsop Plains near Astoria. They built a house near Solomon Smith, an old trapping companion. The were considered by their neighbors to be of the best type of pioneer families. When the pioneers were in need of cash a few years later, Elbridge and a group of neighbors decided to build a ship, fill it with produce and sail it San Francisco in 1848. They named the ship the Pioneer. This venture provided cash to buy some of the things the settlers needed.27
In 1852, Elbridge and Hannah decided to leave the Clatsop Plains and settle in the Tillamook country to the south. Elbridge and Hannah were the first family to settle in this wild but beautiful country. A historical novel was written about Elbridge and Hannah's experiences by Don Berry.28 Elbridge and Hannah settled on the river that now bears his name, the Trask River.
In 1855, the settlers built a ship which they christened the "Morning Star".29 Don Berry also wrote a historical novel about the building of the "Morning Star".30 Elbridge continued to be actively involved in the settlers activities serving as Justice of Peace and County Commissioner. His home served as the communities main meeting place in the early days. When the Tillamook Indians became upset, Trask build a fort at his home for the settlers to take refuge in.31 Elbridge and his son-in-law Warren Vaughn negotiated with the Chief of the Tillamooks and the trouble died down.
Elbridge's seafaring days were not over as he served as the Captain of a vessel named the "Gull" on several voyages to bring supplies to Tillamook.32 He also began to build his own schooner on the first of May, 1855. The schooner was launched May 8, 1858. Elbridge named the schooner after his daughter Rosaltha.33
On October 8, 1858, Elbridge's daughter Harriet married Warren N. Vaughn. They were married by the Justice of the Peace as there were no preachers in the Tillamook settlement.34
Elbridge's health was becoming increasing poor. He even had to hire a sea captain to run his ship as he was no longer able to do this himself. The man he hired to captain his ship did such a poor job that the ship had to sold in San Francisco to pay off the debts that had built up.
Elbridge's health continued to decline and he died at the age of forty-nine on June 22, 1863. He told Hannah he wanted to be buried on a hill top near his home. He left the following children; Rosealthe Able Tripp - the baby daughter Hannah had with her on the wagon train when Elbridge first met her, Harriet and Martha -twins born on the Clatsop Plains, Nancy, Jane, George, Eodora, Charles, William and Avilla.
Elbridge Trask, the sailor from Massachusetts, mountain man, trapper, adventurer and pioneer had lived an exciting, rich life. He saw the true old west before the image was distorted by the Hollywood writers of the twentieth century.
1 Beverly, Mass. Vital Records, data added to this story by R.W. Trask 2 James Duncan Phillips, Salem In The Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, Mass. 1933), p. 41. 3 Sampson, William R. "Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth." In The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, ed. Leroy R. Hafen, vol. 5, pp. 381-401. Glendale, Calif. 4 Tuthill, Jo "Elbridge Trask." In The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, ed. Leroy R. Hafen, vol. 4, pp.369-381. Glendale, Calif. 5 Russell, Osborne, Journal Of A Trapper, p. 96. Lincoln, Nebraska : University of Nebraska Press. 1965. 6 Tuthill, The Mountain and the Fur Trade of the Far West, vol. 4. p. 370. 7 Russell, Journal of a Trapper, p. 39. 8 Tuthill, The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, vol. 4, p.371. 9 Ibid, p. 371. 10 Russell, Journal of a Trapper, p. 41. 11 Gray, William H., A History of Oregon, 1792-18947, (Portland: Harris, Holman) 1870, pp. 118-19. 12 Ross, Marvin C., ed., The West of Alfred Jacob Miller, Norman, Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, 1951. p.159. 13 Carter, Harvey L. "Andrew Drips" In The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, ed. Leroy R. Hafen, vol. 8, pp.144-156. Glendale, Calif. 14 Carson, Kit, Kit Carson's Autobiography, ed. Milo Milton Quaife, pp.47-52. Lincoln, Nebraska; University of Nebraska Press. 1966. 15 Russell, Journal of a Trapper, pp.82-83. 16 Ibid, p. 96. 17 Ibid, p. 90. 18 Porter, Mae Reed and Davenport, Odessa, Scotsman in Buckskins, Hastings House, 1963. P. 172. 19 Russell, Journal of a Trapper, p. 91. 20 Trask, Juel M., Andrew Henry, from a paper presented to the Colorado Fur Trade Historical Society, February, 1983. 21 Russell, Journal of a Trapper, p. 97. 22 Russell, Journal of a Trapper, pp. 101-107. 23 Tuthill, The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, vol. 4, p. 376. 24 Russell, Journal of a Trapper, p. 123. 25 Ibid, p. 125. 26 Tuthill, The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West, vol. 4, p. 377 27 Ibid, p. 378. 28 Berry, Don, Trask, Viking Press, Inc. 1960. 29 Vaughn, Warren N., Early History of Tillamook, unpublished manuscript, p. 54. 30 Berry, Don, To Build A Ship, Popular Library, N.Y., 1963. 31 Vaughn, Early History Of Tillamook, p. 69. 32 Ibid, p. 71. 33 Ibid, p. 78. 34 Ibid, p. 79.
An Account Of An Indian Attack On A Party Of Four Buffalo Hunters
The Narrow Escape, as Related to the Writer by Solomon Humbarger, One of the Participants; Sketches of the Humbarger Family.
During the period of Indian trouble about the last part of May, 1869, a party of four young men, Solomon Humbarger, Dick Alley, his brother-in-law, William Earl, and Harry Trask [Harry A. Trask, H.A., b: 7-13-1846 Durand Twp., Winnebago Co., IL 1881 Sheriff Lincoln Co., KS, d: 8-24-1912 Quinlan, Woodward Co., OK], left home on the Saline River in Ottawa County, some miles west of Salina, on a hunting expedition, and with a secondary object of looking for a suitable piece of land for a homestead, as the best claims farther east were pretty closely taken at that time. The outfit comprised two teams of horses and and wagons, one team belonging to Humbarger, the other team to Harry Trask and William Earl.
The party struck a course northwest toward the upper Solomon, and later turned more directly north, hoping thus to reach sooner a good hunting territory, and arrived at a branch of Covert Creek in Osborn County within eight or ten miles of the Solomon River. Mr. Humbarger says: “We took notice of the fine surrounding country suitable for settlement. The creekswere fringed with considerable timber and much underbrush. Of the former, we had seen oak and walnut, which the prospective settler had in view for fence posts, etc. The creek bed was dry but waterholes and springs were found in several places, and altogether it made an ideal camping place, so we remained here several days.”
Humbarger and Alley had killed several buffaloes a few miles from camp and were taking off their hides when some suspicious objects in the far distance appeared, and then disappeared. Both had noticed it and conversed about it, so they loaded the hides and drove to camp. Crossing a ravine they noticed numerous pony tracks in the soft ground. The tracks were far apart and deeply impressed and all agreed that they had been ridden, and quite rapidly at that. There was but one conclusion for us--that there had been Indians in the vicinity quite recently. We felt sure we were closely watched. It was decided that it was safest not to leave camp very far, thus inviting an attack while on open ground away from the wagons.
The next day, June 2, 1869, being damp and drizzly, several large buffalo hides were unrolled and stretched along the sideof the wagon so that when dry they would constitute a kind of armor, affording partial protection against possible Indian arrows. “While in camp one day,” related Mr. Humbarger, in telling the story, “I saw a big buck deer grazing on the other side of the creek. I took my rifle and crept toward it. Getting within range, I fired, at which the deer ran toward me, evidently mortally wounded, and ran against a hackberry tree where it fell dead. As some of the boys came up just then, we dressed the game and carried it to camp.
“On this damp day we had a pot of venison boiling on the campfire. I was lying on some blankets under the wagon while Alley and Trask were making a circle about the camp with the intention of ascending a near by hill for a wider view of the surrounding country. It was past noon. We were expecting to have a late dinner, when an Indian, unobserved, had gotten within a short range of our camp and suddenly appeared a short distance away. Soon the whole band came into view. A number were mounted and some were unmounted. They attacked our camp at once, cutting off Alley from retreat. Since he had not expected to meet the foe so soon he had taken no arms with him. The only avenue left open for escape was to make for the shelter of the creek several hundred yards away. Alley, in his younger days, was a well built athletic man. He was also more than usually swift of foot and now lost no time in making for the creek, arriving at a washed out embankment not a second too soon, a part of the yelling savages being close to his heels as he plunged over the bank down to the creek, sliding down a part of the twenty-foot sloping depth to the bottom and quickly gained the sheltering underbrush, while the mounted Indians remained on their ponies on the bank above unable to follow. His enemies were thus temporarily discomfitted. Alley was able to make a sudden dash along the bed of the creek and reached his companions near camp in safety.”
While this was taking place a number of the Indians attacked the boys at the wagons. Two of the boys, at the first alarm, seized their arms and made for the creek with a number of dismounted redskins in pursuit. Humbarger, who had been lying under the wagon dozing, more than half asleep, was the last to be aroused. His rifle was lying by his side, but while his companion was making his hasty exit a blanket was accidently lapped over it. He failed to grasp his own weapon, but instead took Alley’s sharps carbine which law near by. Pulling up the hammer he leveled it at the nearest Indian, a big fellow, perhaps a sub-chief, who, with his bow and arrow was close upon the heels of the fleeing men. This savage, in his frenzied pursuit of scalps, caught sight of Humbarger with the upraised rifle, and knowing the sights were trained in his direction, began dodging back and forth as he ran in order to present a more difficult mark. “But I caught him, Humbarger said. With unerring aim he pulled the trigger at the right instant. The large bullet passed through the redskin’s body, struck a sapling beyond, from which it glanced with a whistling sound through the air. The savage fell back mortally wounded.
Humbarger was now on his feet making for his companions in the brush, while the savages behind were letting fly a shower of arrows at short range. One of these missles struck him in the thigh just as he reached the bank of the creek. It seemed to deprive him of all the strength of his legs and he fell in a heap to the ground. He gathered himself up and with the help of the boys, the arrow was extracted. The weapon with which he had shot the brave was now empty, and the ammunition in his hasty retreat was left behind. Thus several Indians gathered nearby on the creek bank escaped the fate of their unfortunate companion. Said Mr. Humbarger, “I could have killed several. Although we thought we were fully prepared for all kinds of danger the attack came as a complete surprise. Earl had his repeating rifle in his hands but was so overcome with excitement that he could not use it, and neither would he let me have it. As I look at it now, I could not blame him. He was just simply having a spell of what hunters call “buck fever,” and so we lost the chance of making several good Indians.”
Alley now having arrived, the hunters were all in the brush, a temporary place of safety; but in their hasty flight Humbarger’s rifle and all the ammunition were left at the wagons. Meanwhile the Indians on the other side were hidden in sumack or plum thickets and with their bows and arrows covering the camp. But ammunition must be secured at all hazards. Alley and Trask volunteered and made a run for the wagons, one at a time, securing Humbarger’s rifle and a few boxes of ammunition, while the savages from their nearby location sent a shower of arrows at the boys, the missles striking the spokes of the wagon wheels with a ringing “cling cling.” But neither was struck and soon returned with their priceless treasure to their temporary place of safety.
The wounded savage made a doleful noise, calling to the other braves hidden in the brush, who repeated the calls and answered to each other, which Humbarger, sore and mad by the arrow wound, repeated in derision, mocking the Indians against the protest of his companions. Humbarger contended that as the savages knew of their location, and seemingly hopeless situation, there was no use of showing the white feather at this time. Much better, said he, to hurl back defiance. He said: “The wounded savage was lying in plain view within a short distance. I could have silenced him with another shot, but that would have been a waste of ammunition which we were apt to need.”
How these four hunters made their escape, surrounded as they were by unknown numbers of savages, seems almost a miracle. No thought was given to the horses and wagons; the only thought was how to escape. Sheltered by high banks of the creek covered with trees and heavy underbrush they silently made their way up the creek toward the settlements, their rifles in their hands ready to fire at the first featherhead. The wounded man used his own rifle as a support until his companions cut a forked stick for his use as a crutch. Slowly they made their way along, now and then getting a glimpse of the redskins through the opening the the brush. Night coming on the divide of eight miles to the next creek was crossed by morning.
The next day Indians were still in sight. They were aware of the hunters’ escape, and were still following across the open country. Mounted pursuers overhauled the white men rapidly. Humbarger’s condition greatly impeded their progress. As the pot of boiled venison had been left at the camp, the hunters had no provisions except a few pieces of dried buffalo meat hastily snatched up as they secured the ammunition. With unbroken resolution to overcome difficulties the wounded man, aided by his comrades, continued to struggle onward. As the Indians continued to pursue, it was felt by all that they must soon make their last stand, The courageous Humbarger told his companions to make their escape if they were afraid to stay with him. He said: “Save yourselves, boys. I will get through somehow. One man can hide better than four. If the Indians had found us they could have surrounded and starved us out.”
His companions declined to leave him. They all took a canyon running in a diverging direction and again succeeded ineluding their pursuers who several miles ahead came upon another party of hunters--”Tripp’s Party, as we learned afterward,” said Humbarger, “also from the Saline Valley.” There were six or seven men in this party, well armed, having mostly needle guns and repeating rifles.
Here the old man, leaning back in his rocking chair while telling the story, was very much pleased and laughed as he said: “Yes, after all our trouble, we sidetracked them off successfully into the hands of Tripp’s party, who gave them a warm reception.”
Humbarger’s rifle was a muzzle loader. At the time it was bought it was considered an up to date sporting rifle and was highly prized by the owner. But early in this retreat it was found burdensome for the wounded man and his companions to carry. After having eluded the Indians the party felt themselves tolerably safe. Coming to a location which Humbarger thought he could remember, he set the rifle up against an oak tree to leave it; then thinking that the rain might rust the inside of the barrel, it was hung up on a limb muzzle downward, expecting some day to return to the place and get it.
On reaching a secluded spot in a rocky canyon, a spring and plenty of underbrush, the second night a halt was made. Humbarger’s wound through irritation and neglect was now swollen and very sore and dangerous, and it was now decided to leave him here with his brother-in-law, Alley, while the other two men went to the settlement sixty miles to the east for help and a conveyance to bring the wounded man in. This temporary refuge can not now be exactly located but it must have been on or about Wolf Creek in Osborn County.
A slippery elm tree was found, the bark peeled off and made into a politce by Alley, which helped to keep back inflammation. During their enforced stay of several days in this hiding place, extreme precautions were taken to conceal themselves. Buffaloes came to the water to drink and offered great temptation to Alley, who wished to shoot one, the skin to be used by the wounded man as a rug to lie one, but Humbarger’s objection overruled him as the shots might attract and bring on the Indians.
The nights were cool, but only a small campfire was permissible. Alley was inclined to pile on too much wood and after getting comfortably warm would fall asleep, leaving Humbarger to watch alone. He often kicked apart the fire to destroy the too brilliant light.
The other two men made their way east down the creeks. A short time prior to this an antelope had been shot, and some of the flesh partly cooked on a fire was taken along by the men on their journey to the settlements. First they crossed Wolf Creek, then over the divide to Spillman, and next to Bacon Creek, where they found the deserted cabin of a settler nicknamed “Crooked Powder,” (whose name is mentioned in another chapter) where they found some left over corn bread. This was all the men had to eat until they reached the Saline River, where, during the next night, they arrived, footsore and exhausted, at Martin Hendrickson’s. At this house had congregated a large party of settlers, who had been out during the day gathering up and burying the dead bodies of people killed during the Indian raid along the Saline River, a short time prior to their arrival, which has been told in a previous chapter. Among the party congregated was Miram Green, who answered the knock of Earl at the door. Fearing news of returning Indians, a voice from the inside asked: “Who is there?” “Bill Earl and Harry Trask,” was the answer. The men entered and made their report.
Soon a rescue party of a dozen men was formed in the sparsely settled country where Beverly now stands. Among those whose name could be mentioned were Volney Ball, Ed Johnson, Jack Pete, Chalmer Smith and -----Trozier, with several team, comprised the party. At Salina another party of about the same number was formed, who also proceeded to the rescue, not knowing of the first party. Reaching the solitary camp of Alley and Humbarger, the wounded man was placed in a spring wagon, and on their way home met the Salina party, a soon thereafter all reached home without further mishap. Solomon Humbarger died in 1917.
Alva Deville, Alvah Deville, Joseph, Isaac, Josiah, Josiah, Samuell, Osmonde Trask, b: 11-25-1845 Toronto, Clinton Co., IA, d: 12-19-1914 bur. Hot Springs, SD. Married Elizabeth Jane Pascoe on 2-15-1880 Freemont, NE (daughter of Nathaniel Pascoe and his 1st wife Catherine Kennedy) b: 9-2-1860 North Adams, MA, 5 ft tall and 98 Lbs., d: 8-24-1932 Elm Springs, SD
The Trask Family: By Mamie Trask Seely - Thank's Frank
8-11. Mamie Laverne Trask, b: 8-13-1900 Pactola, SD, d: 1-29-1979 Alger, WA, married Frank L. Seely on 6-8-1921 Rapid City, SD
Story of how the Alva Trask homesteaded in the Dakota Territory and started his family.
During the winter of 1874, the Chicago Inter-Ocean Journal carried front page accounts of General Custer's expedition from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory into the Black Hills and of the discovery of gold by Horatio N. Ross. These reports caused the gold fever to rise, especially among those adventurous frontiersmen who were acquainted with the Western Plains Country.
Alva D. Trask II headed a small party (six other men) of experienced Indian fighters and prospectors. They formulated very careful and detailed plans for a sneak past the Army, who were deployed around the entire border of the Great Sioux Reservation, in an attempt to keep the Indians in and the white trespassers out.
This small party boarded a steamboat bound for the upper Missouri River sometime in March of 1875. Their plan was at the first opportunity to go ashore and move over land by foot under the cover of darkness into the Black Hills, a trek of about two hundred miles through hostile Indian country.
When their steamboat tied up at Fort Pierre, the time seemed to be ripe to do a little loafing on the shore in the vicinity of the landing and produce a vanishing act into the brush along the river as soon as possible. They executed this part of their plan very successfully, keeping away from the soldiers until night fall. They started up Bad River from the south; they turned left and proceeded to the head of it, concealing them selves in the underbrush. The rigors of their adventure started at this point, for sleeping on the ground in March weather without a fire surely calls for rugged characters.
At daybreak the following morning they could hear a large Cavalry patrol working their way up Bad River checking the brush, washouts and other possible hide-outs, evidently looking for the trespassers, having been alerted that seven men had left the steamboat the day before and were missing.
Trask and his party remained in their hideout at the head of this canyon, lying very quietly in the underbrush with nearly freezing weather all that day. Toward evening the Cavalry patrol was heard returning from their mission, of course empty handed, as the clatter of horses and sabers vanished down the river toward the Fort.
Trask, having had ten years Cavalry service prior to this time, over this same terrain, deemed it safe to start up Bad River, under the protection of darkness, on foot.
Each man carried a separate piece of camp and mining equipment, in addition to his own blankets, provisions, rifle and ammunition. They traveled by night taking great care to select a good hiding place for the day.
In April of 1875 they arrived at Gordon Stockade a short time before the Gordon Party was put under arrest by Capt. Mix of the 2nd U. S. Cavalry.
Trask was allowed by military officials to remain in the Black Hills until a treaty could be negotiated with the Indians to open the reservation to settlers.
He was elected the first Mining Claim recorded in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He was well acquainted with U. S. Marshal, "Wild Bill Hickok," "Calamity Jane" and Anna Tallent, who was the first school teacher in the Black Hills.
In 1879, he filed on a homestead on Deer Creek, where later the village of Pactola, South Dakota was established. He built a cabin on his property and then left for Nebraska to visit his sister. He married Elizabeth Jane Pascoe Feb. 15, 1880 in Fremont, Nebraska. He returned to the Black Hills with his bride, in March of 1880 by stage coach. Thirteen children were born to this union: Joseph Edward, Alva Deville III, Malcolm, Grace, Adeline, Catherine, Nathaniel, Dama Ellen, McKinley, Minnie, Mamie Lavene, James Edward, and Clair Pascoe.
In the spring of 1903 the family moved to the prairie where Trask hoped his boys would become ranchers. Joe was the first to file on a homestead east of the Little Cheyenne River. They cut and whip sawed huge pine logs, hauled them from the Hills and built a one story house. In the fall, Trask and one of the boys would freight supplies by wagon train from Rapid City, a distance of about 90 miles. They would bring flour, sugar, bran’s, coffee beans (for grinding), a barrel of oatmeal, dried fruit, etc. This would keep the family all winter.
The Indians used to make camp at the foot of the Old Crowell Hill, at the forks of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers, on their way to Rapid City from the Cheyenne Reservation below Pedro. In the winter time they would walk across the frozen river to the Trask ranch to trade blankets to Trask for coffee, sugar and tobacco. On one of these occasions, Mother Trask (not understanding a word. the Old Indian was saying) had a feeling that her husband was getting 'took' in the trade, kept interrupting the conversation. Finally Trask said to the Indian "let me trade you my squaw." The Indian looking at Mother Trask and shaking his head answered "NO - ME - NOT WANT - EM, - TOO - MUCH - YAPPY." She never lived that story down.
Trask loved to build dams and dig ditches for irrigation. When the Government started work on the Panama Canal in 1904, he wanted to go. Here was a ditch that was a challenge and another adventure about to begin. After getting the family settled in the new location he went to the Canal Zone in the spring of 1905.
After returning from Panama he began to fail in health. He spent his final years in the Battle Mountain Sanitarium in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
In the meantime, Al and Mack worked for different large cattle outfits that had sprung up, Sam and Nels Fish and C. K. Howard were two of them.
Joe clerked in the Frank Cottle Trading Post at Smithville, about fifteen miles up the river from home. All three boys came home occasionally and kept in close contact with the family.
Joe bought the family the first phonograph in the country, in about 1909. It was an Edison with cylinder records and a huge morning glory horn. What a treasure! About this time western novels hit the market. Mother Trask bought a series of the "Flying U" books. Each night, after chores and dishes were finished, all would gather around the old potbelly stove and Mother Trask would read aloud these wonderful western tales, until bedtime.
About this time the Duhamel Post Office was moved to the ranch and Mother Trask was made postmistress until the spring of 1911. She passed away at her home on August 24, 1932. Burial was at Elm Springs Cemetery.
Note: Judie and I lived on Franklin Street in Rapid City, SD. Our daughter Moe was born and baptized there. Our favorite spot was at Canyon Lake. I spent four months there digging it out after the flood of 1972.